An open letter to the government

Housing is undeniably a subject that is very close to the heart of Malaysians.

In fact, as a prime mover of Malaysia’s economy, the property development and construction sector feeds hundreds of thousands of workers dependent on the about-140-related industries.

To take the industry forward, Malaysia needs a holistic approach in rewriting how things have been done repeatedly in the past.

A change in mindset is therefore necessary, as with the buy-in of a clear objective in order to compete on the global stage.

For a start, please consider the following:

1. Consultation and engagement

Introduce any new policy or guideline only after prior consultation with industry stakeholders. This will prevent unnecessary confusion that paralyses — albeit temporarily, but which we can ill afford — the market.

2. Affordable housing

•             Provide a clear definition. With land cost being a variable, there is no one-size-fits-all pricing; ambiguity spawns abuse.

•             It is great news that there would be a National Affordable Housing Council to streamline planning and implementation across all the agencies involved.

•             Build based strictly on location-specific demand or risk a further supply-demand mismatch.

3. Curbing price hike

•             Provide transparency in the approval processes.

•             Remove discretionary powers.

•             Ensure KPI-pegged efficiency.

•             Practise a review of cross subsidies.

•             Review and reduce compliance cost.

•             Incentivise developers to adopt Industrialised Building System.

4. Design and layout

Lifestyle and needs have changed; so must the mindset of the approving authorities.

5. Oversupply

•             There is an urgent need for timely market data.

•             Ironically, the key data — incoming supply and its construction progress, recent sales, property types and pricing — are available at various departments. Just join the dots!

6. No flip-flopping, please!

Inconsistent rules and regulations stifle the market. Moving goalposts mid-way in a game is a strict no-no — we have seen this too often.

7. Need for property maintenance

•             Government must take the lead.

•             Incentivise and encourage the private sector to embrace top-in-class global property management practices.

•             Note that poorly-maintained vertical strata homes, especially the lower-cost types, could potentially end up looking like slums in urban areas.

8. Elections in local councils

The sooner the better — for obvious reasons.

9. Liveability

•             Leave gazetted parks and green lungs alone. These are the heartbeats of a robust and liveable nation.

•             Encourage recycling and sustainability.

 Yours sincerely,

This story first appeared in pullout on May 18, 2018. Download pullout here for free.

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